Keegan-Michael Key cites D’Brickashaw Ferguson as inspiration for East/West Bowl sketch

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Everyone has their own favorite. Hingle McCringleberry. L’Carpetron Dookmarriot. D’Isiah T. Billings-Clyde. Jackmerius Tacktheritrix. All classics.

Fans of the comedy series Key & Peele, which aired for five seasons on Comedy Central, are all too familiar with these names. For those who haven’t seen the sketch I’m referring to, the premise is simple. Keegan-Michael Key and co-star Jordan Peele spend the better part of three minutes batting around increasingly absurd names (Shakiraquan T.G.I.F. Carter and The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop among them) of fictional college football players competing in an All-Star event called the East/West Bowl.

The sketch instantly went viral upon its debut in 2012, with a sequel made the following year. The East/West Bowl was inevitably brought up during Key’s recent sit-down with Kyle Brandt, host of 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt on The Ringer Podcast Network. Key, an avid football fan with allegiances to both Penn State (his alma mater) and his hometown Detroit Lions, cited two players—former Jets offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Hall-of-Fame safety Charles Woodson—as inspirations for the iconic sketch.

“[Charles Woodson] was the first person I ever saw mess with the Monday Night Intros,” explained the actor and comedy veteran. “‘Now ladies and gentleman, for the Oakland Raiders defense.’ And they’re going person by person, and they get to Charles, and he goes, ‘Charles Woodson. Safety. You know the school.’”

While admittedly not as big an NFL fan as Key, Peele saw the comedy potential in some of the bizarre names he encountered while playing the popular video game, Madden. “We were working on the pilot of the show and Jordan goes, ‘Keegan, man. Do you know that there is a player who plays football for the New York Jets named D’Brickashaw Ferguson?’” recalls Key. “I said, ‘Oh, Jordan. Buddy, that’s the tip of the iceberg.’”

Peele was responsible for writing the sketch, though Key did add one important wrinkle. “I added one name,” said Key. “I said, ‘Oh! We have to have a white guy and his name has to be Dan Smith. Or Bill Smith. Or John Smith. And he has to go to Brigham Young University.’” After some deliberation, they eventually settled on Dan Smith.

“He’s a wordsmith,” said Key in admiration of Peele, who has gone on to direct a number of successful films (mostly in the horror genre) including the 2017 hit Get Out, which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. “He loves sounds and words, and that was right up his alley.”

Key & Peele has long been a favorite of NFL players, including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who emulated McCringleberry’s famous (and decidedly NSFW) touchdown celebration during a game in 2020. Rodgers also made a cameo as A.A. Ron Rodgers (pronounced Rod-gurrs) in one of the later East/Bowl sketches.

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